5 Lessons I Learned From My Awkward Middle School Phase

It's safe to say middle school was not the best years of my life.

In fact, simply calling me awkward would be a huge understatement. My favorite styles included the brightest pair of neon skinny jeans I could possibly find, paired with a graphic tee of a band I never listened to and a studded belt worn fashionably (or not so fashionably) over my shirt.

My pants drawer or Rainbow brights?#neonskinnyjeans #iloveanythingcolorful

A post shared by ⚡️????????Shelly Gallimore ????????⚡️ (@shellebelle1119) on

I also decided somewhere along the way that how to make myself look presentable was to hide half my face under my bangs, which simultaneously blocked my eyesight and made the oddly cut bangs greasy and limp. I was also loud, opinionated and completely unaware of most social cues.

However, despite my inability to look at junior high pictures without activating my gag reflex, I actually learned a lot from my awkward middle school stage.

Scroll below for five things I learned from being a painfully awkward middle schooler.

Looks Aren't Everything

In addition to my unique sense of style, I was also not terribly good-looking in junior high. I hadn't quite grown into my round face, and my oily bangs were definitely not helping my situation. But you know what? It didn't matter. I was comfortable in my own skin, and I was surrounded by friends and family who still loved me despite my awkward appearance. I was able to develop a sense of my own personality and humor, and to work on being kind and considerate to the people around me. In the long run, looks really don't mean that much, especially if they're the only thing you care about.

Pretty Girl in Front of a Wall

(via Unsplash)


Embrace Your Style

We've already established that my middle school style was unusual, to say the least, but at the time it was what I enjoyed and how I felt comfortable dressing. Shifting my style to be more in line with on-trend fashion never even crossed my young mind. Even though I can't bear my middle school pictures now, my unconventional clothes taught me to embrace my own unique fashion. I was a loud junior higher who refused to fade into the background, and my style reflected that. More important than staying up on current trends is making sure you're comfortable and confident in whatever you happen to be wearing, even if it's a little quirky.


Find Your People

I'm positive that plenty of my peers mocked my unusual middle school habits, but their opinions truly didn't matter to me. Instead, I found a group of students who welcomed me with open arms, quirks and all. It's important to surround yourself with people who share your interests. Not everyone is going to like you, but the people who truly care about you will love you no matter what. Find those people and never let them go!

Lizzie McGuire and Lalaine

(Lizzie McGuire via Disney Channel)


Be Confident

More important than any kind of outside approval is making sure you're comfortable and confident in who you are. I was a huge book worm in middle school, and doing well in academics was incredibly important to me. This earned my quite a few titles of "class nerd," but I wasn't about to sacrifice the things I enjoyed to please the people around me. Even if you do adjust your hobbies and interests to a more mainstream mentality, people will always find a way to pick on you. Instead, focus on doing what you enjoy and refuse to change your opinion to make other people happy. People will respect your confidence and you will enjoy life much more if you do what you love.


Change Isn't a Bad Thing

Thankfully, I am very different today than I was in middle school. Part of the change I experienced was just a result of growing up, and part of it was realizing that rainbow studded belts just aren't that cute. Oftentimes, change is presented as a bad thing, but you are going to experience millions of changes over the course of your life. Change helps you grow, learn and develop a better sense of yourself and the world. The most important thing is checking in with yourself and ensuring that you are still happy with who you are, and if you're not, you can change that, too!


Not feeling so confident in who you are? Check out THIS list of things that don't define your worth.